After the end of World War I and II, Western Europe began to witness and experience the spread of democratic regimes throughout, moving further past liberal motivations and towards better established democratic governmental frameworks. As nationalism became discredited, authoritarianism became detested, the drive for the free market and an open international network of trade and the economy began to seep throughout the European mindset, the desire for intergovernmental organizations and European integration began to consume the continent, resulting in the establishment of the EU. It was towards the end of the 1900s, that Europe saw some major form of unity and cooperation, creating a change and moving away from being considered each individual country within Western Europe, to Western Europe becoming a collective entity that could be referred to and regarded as a whole. However, the 2007-2008 economic euro crisis created a wave of “anti-europe” sentiment with fairly negative outlooks on this political, and mainly economic union. As its modern institutions remain today, having thrived out of rubble, the EU has faced turmoil in recent years, causing a growth of euroskepticism within society, with COVID-19 as a continuous push in this direction as economic and healthcare uncertainty is faced head on, once again.
For the last two years, the COVID-19 global pandemic has hit every country, facing innumerable repercussions and difficulties. While the virus varied throughout each country in Europe, it had a similar effect on the whole of the continent and within the European Union – reduced economic growth. With restrictions on businesses and tourism, almost every individual experienced job insecurity and financial worry. Having to depend on every respective government for safety, instruction, and aid, individual citizens unhappy with government decision began to see their trust wavering. While many faced the policies and restrictions willingly, yet disappointingly, many others grew to lose faith and trust within their government and their leaders, expressing their distaste and anger for the economic, psychological, and health-related consequences. This suspicion began to move past national government to EU level, as members of the European Union faced heavy fire and criticism for lack of proactivity in dealing with the pandemic ‘properly.’ Upon entering the final stages, the EU faces heavy pressure for an efficient and well respected exit plan, in hopes to gain back citizen respect and lead Europe towards safety economically, politically, but most importantly, healthily. As such, the Green pass has been given the introductory spotlight.
As we near an end to the pandemic and vaccinations rise throughout Europe, those against the vaccinations rise intandem. In attempts to place pressure on the unvaccinated, a ‘green pass’ restriction has been placed on unvaccinated individuals, the move coming initially from Israel, with France leading its way in Europe. As Europe sees a recent rise in infections, countries followed this move, in an effort to protect its people and its economy, the Prime Minister of Italy, for example, stating earlier this week that a green pass was now necessary to enter all indoor venues or locations. Similar to the EU’S digital Covid certificate, the green pass is considered an extension of this, to be made available even to those with one dose or those with a negative covid test taken within 48 hours. To enter museums, theaters, gyms, indoor restaurants, stadiums or cinemas, entrance will only be allowed once a green pass has been presented. This move has pulled the small, yet strong anti-vaccination movements out of the woodwork, throughout Europe, France initially receiving strong protest against it. Such opposition has only further proceeded to strengthen the anti-Europe or eurosceptic attitudes allowing for a rise in far-right thinking and making the end of this pandemic feel continuously farther away.
As the world continues in this state of emergency, with government agency and government mistrust rising congruently within Europe and the EU, we similarly see a growth in far-right movements as well. From Italy’s Fratelli d’Italia and Germany’s Alternative for Germany, to France’s National Rally, these far-right movements across the board bring with them criticism for national government and growing euroscepticism as a response and rallying cry to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the hopes of ending this virus soon remain, the aftermath of its damage will leave an imprint for countless years to come in all aspects of life: psychologically, socially, economically, and most importantly – politically.